John Tartol

Thirty-year-old Malibu resident John Tartol isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Born and raised in Malibu, Tartol is young and ambitious. He successfully runs a nutrition club in Tarzana, works for Herbalife Nutrition as a distributor, is a photographer and is thinking about starting law school. 

Tartol has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of San Diego. When he was 21, he tore his ACL while skiing. His mother bought him a camera, which sparked his interest in photography. Capturing Malibu’s beauty, some of his work is on display at Lily’s café. 

The Malibu Times got a chance to sit down with the man who has quickly learned that in life it’s better to teach a man to fish than to give him a fish. 

As a photographer, what is your favorite scene or subject to capture? Of all the photographs you’ve taken, which one is your favorite and why?

Anything outdoors. The one I took in Haiti of a young girl standing under a tree getting out of a rainstorm. I took it about five-and-a-half years ago. It’s my favorite because it was a random photo; it wasn’t set up or anything. A big storm suddenly came in and we all ran to find cover and she ran under the tree and I took the photo. I’ve never sold it. I’ve only printed it for my own use. I don’t think it’s even online. I wouldn’t sell it.

How long have you been working for Herbalife? Why Herbalife? What have you learned while working there?

My family and I have been part of the business for 35 years, so even before I was born. My dad signed me up as a distributor when I was 15, but I wasn’t serious about it until 25. And now I love it or I wouldn’t still be doing it. I’ve learned a lot. How to deal with people mostly. The art of conversation, which is one of the best skills to learn. And how to keep life positive. And I’ve learned the realities of building a business. It’s also taught me that in life it’s better to teach a man to fish than to give him a fish. 

From a nutrition company to law school. How did your interest in law evolve?

I don’t know yet. I’ve been talking to Pepperdine but I still haven’t decided. I was on my way to law school before I got serious about Herbalife. I want the opportunity to defend myself or others when need be. When we opened up the nutrition club, the laws for new businesses are so berserk. It’s ridiculous. It’s motivating to learn and know all the background.  

What is one dream you would like to accomplish before you turn 50 years old?

There’s a lot on the goal list. I want to have a business built where I don’t have to answer to anyone and do what I want. If I have a family and they want to go skiing in Switzerland, I want to be able to buy everything in cash and say let’s go. 

What is your opinion on the current political race for presidency?

I am very excited to go to the polls and vote for someone like Donald Trump because if history has taught me anything, it’s career politicians destroy a country.

What’s an interesting or unique fact about you that people don’t know?

Very few people know what I did in Haiti. I went there with Herbalife as a photographer to document the trip. I made a video and slideshow when I came back and showed it to Herbalife executives. Because of the video they decided to make a kitchen at the Haitian Health Foundation. And yes, Donald Trump supporters like to help others.

What is your favorite thing about Malibu? If you could change one thing about Malibu what would it be and why?

The scenic beauty. I get to drive through Kanan to and from work and it’s beautiful. I would change all the people who are against things like Whole Foods and a marina coming to Malibu. It will bring more jobs and a more vibrant life to Malibu. I understand that they don’t want the crowds, but we have that already. But if we can make the town lively and fun it would be great. It will bring a lot of money in. 

How was it having your portrait painted by Johanna Spinks?

Really cool and fun. It was the first time I’ve ever had a portrait painted. I enjoyed the conversation I had with her. It was so unique how someone could take a paintbrush and come up with the image she did. I could never do that.


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